Banana cultivar distribution in Rwanda

  • A Nsabimana
  • SV Gaidashova
  • G Nantale
  • D Karamura
  • J Van Staden
Keywords: Cultivars, diversity indexes, germplasm, Musa spp.


Rwanda is part of the East African plateau where banana (Musa spp.) reach their greatest importance as a staple food crop, covering 23% of land and grown by 90% of households. The region is considered a secondary centre of diversity for banana and many cultivars do exist although limited information is available on the diversity and
their distribution in the country. In the past, banana have been a highly sustainable crop in Rwanda, but with the introduction of various diseases and pests in the last 10 -20 years, production has fallen by over 40%. The objectives of this study were to (i) establish the current diversity and distribution of banana cultivars, (ii) understand factors that affect the distribution, and (iii) identify possible synonyms and material for expansion of the National Banana Germplasm Collection. A study was conducted in four major banana growing regions of
Rwanda. Twelve sites and sixty farms were used in this study. A quadrat method was used to make observations and counts of cultivars grown per farm. Farmer interviews were carried out on each farm to make assessments on the distribution of cultivars. Cultivar identification was done by farmers and subsequently verified using the national banana germplasm collection database of the ISAR-Rubona Research Institute. Clone set identification was done using the Karamura classification system. The Kigali region had the highest diversity index, followed
by Kibungo and Cyangugu; while Lake Kivu border region scored the lowest diversity index. Cultivar evenness also differed, with Cyangugu being the highest and Kivu Lake the lowest. There were two major banana subgroups determined at all sites, Lujugira-Mutika with 77.8% abundance and Pisang Awak with 11.9% abundance.
A total of 104 cultivar names were recorded, with 53 synonyms identified for 51 cultivars. Forty cultivars belonged to Lujugira-Mutika subgroup, with ‘Intuntu’, ‘Intokatoke’, ‘Injagi’, ‘Mbwaziruma’ being the most abundant cultivars, while eleven cultivars were exotic. Gisubi (ABB), Gros Michel (AAA), and ‘Kamaramasenge’ (AAB) were the most abundant. Farms with a higher proportion of Gisubi contained fewer other cultivars. Also, new cultivars were identified and these should be added to the National Banana germplasm collection.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2072-6589
print ISSN: 1021-9730